Maria E Gutierrez is driven by one purpose: To empower Latino youth to lead and strengthen communities through education. Gutierrez is a first-generation college student who knows that first-generation students will face a tough road with barriers that can be difficult to overcome. She also realizes the importance of having a heart-to-heart talk with students and their parents. Gutierrez's ultimate goal is to inspire and equip our next generation by sharpening their skills and gaining valuable knowledge for the 21st Century and pursuing STEM careers.
Gutierrez graduated from National Louis University with a Bachelor of Arts in Applied Behavioral Sciences and holds two Master's- Master of Educational Leadership and Master of Education in Learning Sciences in Education with an emphasis in Technology Instructional Design Coach Major.
As an Extension program coordinator, Gutierrez brings a background in adult education, youth development, and program planning with an emphasis on family engagement by providing Latino families with research-based information and strategies to help Latino students make positive changes and leading positive youth development initiatives, such as Juntos 4-H, an initiative with an expanded emphasis on family engagement to propel parent involvement. She has long been an advocate for Latino families and communities and is passionate about empowering parents and youth. Gutierrez has been involved in organizing and coordinating programs throughout Cook County with the ultimate goal to strengthen family engagement by improving their access to information and resources. She has worked relentlessly on building a rapport, not only with the students but their parents and school personnel. To echo on the words of Dr. Joyce Epstein, "Family Engagement is a key component of student and school success, and family engagement begins as a shared responsibility between families, schools and communities." A statement Gutierrez lives by.
Included among her awards and recognition -
- University of Illinois Extension, Face to Face Teaching, 1999
- Centro Juan Diego Comunitario, Teacher of the Year, 1999
- University of Illinois Extension, Innovative Programming, 2000
- University of Illinois Extension, Collaborative Partnership (FNP & 4-H), 2000,
- YMCA, Volunteer of the Year, 2000
- Collaborating with Potential Partners, 2001
Gutierrez's professional associations include the National Society of Leadership and Success, she and was awarded the National Engaged Leader Award in June 2017. Her professional affiliations include the Brighton Park Neighborhood Council, Chicago Public Schools Family & Community Engagement Network, Corazon Community Services, Illinois Digital Educators Alliance, and Parent University & Engagement Center.